Mustafa is YJS President [Archives:2006/963/Front Page]

July 13 2006
Nasr Taha Mustafa
Nasr Taha Mustafa
From left: Nasr Taha Mustafa, Nadia Al-Saqqaf and Ahmed Al-Haj at the Yemen Times debate on Wednesday.
From left: Nasr Taha Mustafa, Nadia Al-Saqqaf and Ahmed Al-Haj at the Yemen Times debate on Wednesday.
Journalist voting in the YSPelections last night.
Journalist voting in the YSPelections last night.
By: Yasser Al-Mayasi
SANA'A, July 12 ) The Yemeni Journalists' Syndicate (YJS) elecotoral committee declraed Nasr Taha Mustafa as president of YJS. Seven hundred and twenty seven journalists diffferent Yemeni governorates came to the capital city on Wednesday to elect a new president for the YJS to succeed Mahboub Ali, who resigned from the post last March. In a statement to the Yemen Times Mustafa said that the electoral process was a democratic one and that he would do his best for the best interest of journalists and freedom of speech in Yemen.

The YJS General Assembly held an extraordinary meeting on the same day at the Cultural Center to organize the poll. Nine journalists are competing for the post; however, Nassr Taha, Chairman of Yemen News Agency, Saba, and Ahmad Al-Haj, Associated Press Reporter, appear as the most prominent candidates with the greatest chance of success. Many journalists applied for the post, but announced their withdrawal a few days before the poll.

The ballot was inaugurated by Prime Minister Abdulqader Bajammal and Minister of Information, Hassan Al-Lawzi. The result of the vote is scheduled to be announced immediately after the poll, which has been in continuation until the time of writing.

Candidate's electoral programs focused on defending press freedom and journalists' rights, proposing a law which would ensure rights and freedom for journalists. Also proposed was the establishment of a social security fund in the syndicate to support journalists.

The programs promised to exert pressure on the government to increase journalists' wages and salaries and improve their living standards.

A day before the event, the Yemen Times organized a debate between the most outstanding candidates for YJS Presidency Ahmad Nassr Taha Mustafa and Ahmad Al-Haj. The debaters briefed attendees on their electoral programs and gave answers to several questions raised by participants.

Contender Nassr Taha emphasized the necessity of adopting tolerance and transparency and exhibiting care for the pace of elections. He noted that the journalism community must maintain friendship and work hard in order to defend the freedom of expression, which is the primary goal of the YJS leader.

Taha affirmed that the winner must expend efforts to unify journalistic work and maintain a unified profession. According to him, success in journalism needs unified efforts. For promises to be fulfilled, the YJS leadership has to cooperate with the General Assembly to enhance teamwork-related concepts, as well as to enable all YJS members to participate in decision-making and determining their syndicate's future.

Taha stated that his program will focus on upgrading the syndicate's main system, establishing a financial and administrative inspection and monitoring staff in the syndicate via amending the main system and making available a syndicate-owned building.

He mentioned that his program plans to make available a journalism code of ethics, rejecting the draft press law in its current formula and replacing it with another law backing freedom of the press. According to Taha's program, the press law must abolish the imprisonment of journalists over the content of their writing and insist that journalists must not be prevented from writing. Journalists must receive real discounts on phone bills, air tickets and medication and there should be a social security fund for journalists.

Taha concluded: “as the journalism community has a uniformed goal, we must not be shocked at any similarity between the electoral programs of different candidates.”

However, Ahmad Al-Haj, the strongest contestant, ascertained that competition for the YJS presidency is the right of every journalist and the post does not imply roseate dreams.

Al-Haj said that his program concentrates on rectifying the unstable situation of the profession. His program is entitled “The Situation is not Healthy”, implying that journalists have been subjected to organized attacks by authorities.

The strongest rival explained that his program rejects the new draft press law that imposes difficulties and restrictions on journalism. He said he will pursue extensive efforts, due to culminate with the issuance of a new press law, to ensure the protection of journalists and improve their standards of living and working atmosphere.

He stressed that, improving journalists' living standards helps defend freedom of the press and make journalists more courageous. According to Al-Haj's program, YJS must be neutral and independent and its business should not be influenced by any person or party. Al-Haj assured that he will establish a fund to support journalists and improve their living standards.

Al-Haj's program contains promises to back the private media, enhance and diversify their resources, defend the rights of journalists and embody the principle “Journalism is a profession and not a job”.